Council to bare fangs on troublesome flying foxes

Toowoomba Live Steamers will close if something is not done to move on the thousands of flying foxes that have taken over the Kearneys Spring park, Friday, May 03, 2013. Photo Kevin Farmer / The Chronicle
Toowoomba Live Steamers will close if something is not done to move on the thousands of flying foxes that have taken over the Kearneys Spring park, Friday, May 03, 2013. Photo Kevin Farmer / The Chronicle Kevin Farmer

TOOWOOMBA Regional Council will today decide the fate of two flying fox colonies encroaching on the community.

A growing roost at Kearneys Spring Park has been the most contentious of the two.

Council must choose whether to relocate miniature railway group Toowoomba Live Steamers to a new park at a cost of between $200,000 and $430,000, or to move the bats on.

Obtaining the necessary permits and carrying out the latter option could cost ratepayers as much as $540,000.

Visitor numbers to the once-popular attraction have dwindled since the bats moved in.

Environmental consultants hired by council have nominated 11 different parks which would be used to house the railway group.

A spokesman for the Toowoomba Live Steamers said the group would work with council to find the best solution.

However, there are concerns that sharing any park with other community or sporting groups could cause conflict.

"We know where we would like to go if we have to move," the spokesman said.

"But we would rather just go somewhere that no one else uses.

"Otherwise, we might end up running into each other."

Legislation divided between the State and Federal Governments has complicated the matter, with the dispersal of black-headed flying foxes coming under the State's jurisdiction.

The rarer grey-headed variety, which shares the roost, is a Federal issue and comes under a far stricter and more expensive approval process for move-on permits.

A "ballpark" figure to move the group to Middle Ridge Park has been estimated at $427,225.

A roost site at Oakey Creek will also come under scrutiny at tomorrow's council meeting, with a decision to be made whether ratepayers should compensate the owners of nearby Kelly's Motel for a downturn in business.

The proprietor has told council two rooms could no longer be filled due to their proximity to the roost and the related noise.

An upper-limit of $20,000 in compensation has been suggested during recent meetings.

CORRECTION: If council chooses move both colonies, gaining the required permits could cost as much as $1.08 million.



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